Contentious issues of citizenship bill discussed in House committee

Kathmandu, February 1

Lawmakers in the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee today reached consensus on mentioning the name of the province in which the bearer resided on the citizenship card.

The Nepal Citizenship Bill, which was drafted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, proposes to mention the name of the province in which the bearer resides, along with the local address, on the citizenship card. This would be applicable to citizens by descent and naturalised citizens.

Lawmaker Rekha Sharma said that lawmakers had agreed on this provision.

The meeting also suggested to the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and MoHA to choose appropriate words to be written on citizenship cards of people of other genders. At present, the citizenship cards mention three genders — male, female and others.

Lawmaker Jhapat Rawal said even in the others category, there were around five categories. So, the panel asked both ministries to put correct words which identified the others genders.

The lawmakers concluded that if related wards or municipalities/rural municipalities do not recommend citizenship to anyone, the officers of elated offices should give reason for doing so within a given time frame.

If the District Administration Office does not issue citizenship card within a given time frame, it should give a reason for not doing so. However, lawmakers have not fixed a time frame in which a person should be issued citizenship card. “The time frame will be mentioned in the regulations of the citizenship bill,” said Sharma.

Lawmaker Rawal said the government should replace the old citizenship cards with a new ones. He said this would also help identify fake citizenship cards.

However, lawmaker Binda Pandey said the bill shouldn’t discriminate against citizens on the basis of gender.

Lawmaker Sujata Pariyar said there should be flexible provision in the bill that would allow people from the Dalit community to change their surnames. “People from the Dalit community, especially the children, are bullied at schools for having a Dalit surname,” she said.

Chairperson of the panel Shashi Shrestha said they would try to forge consensus on all contentious issues of citizenship. “If we fail to resolve certain issues, we will either consult the top political leadership or form a sub-committee to resolve the problem,” she said.